Giotto Bizzarrini is a legend in the world of performance sports cars. A test driver, engineer and carmaker, he is the man behind such cars as the Ferrari 250 GTO and the Testa Rossa. He is also the designer of the V12 engine used by Lamborghini in the 350 GTV and the builder of numerous prototypes that bear his name.
Giotto Bizzarrini was born in Livorno, Italy in 1926. He was the son of a wealthy landowner and came from a good family with strong roots in the Tuscan region. His grandfather, also named Giotto Bizzarrini, was a biologist who had worked with Marconi on his inventions, specially the radio, due to this works and other, one of the the Livorno Library Sections is named The Bizzarrini Library.
After World War II Giotto was sent to the University of Pisa. His design thesis involved the redesign of a second-hand Fiat Topolino, modifying the engine and moving it as far back as he could for optimum weight distribution and also tackled the road-holding. His professors were impressed and Bizzarrini graduated from the university in 1953 as a mechanical engineer.
Going to work for Alfa Romeo, he wanted more than anything to work in the motor department, but instead was assigned to chassis design, before moving on to the experimental department
He was chief engineer at Ferrari in the 1950s, working on such notables as the Ferrari 250 GTO. He split from the company in a major upheval in 1961.
he then joined the young team of Automobili Lamborghini in 1963. He designed and built the first legendary Lamborghini V12 engine. It did not take him much time to develop and finish this engine, which delivered an incredible 400 hp at 11000 rpm. However, Lamborghini wanted the engine to be suitable for a GT, so it was detuned to 280 hp at 7000 rpm. Bizzarrini disliked this, and left the company as soon as the engine testing was finished.
In 1965, he designed his first own car: the Bizzarini Grifo Stradale. This car was identical to the Iso Grifo, which he had designed for Renzo Rivolta. The mechanical parts were from the Chevrolet Corvette. The body (first aluminium, later synthetic) was built by Piero Drogo in Modena. After a year, the name of the car changed in Bizzarrini 5300 Strada.
In 1966, Bizzarrini built a smaller version of his Stradale. The engine was a Fiat 1500 and after some time, Bizzarrini changed the engine for a 1.9-liter Opel GT. The last model was the Bizzarrini Europa.
There developed four sport cars more: three spiders and a coupe with folding doors, which all were sold as the Bizzarrini P538. All models were driven by cross placed engines (a V8 Corvette or a Lamborghini V12). One of the sport cars was sold to Giugiaro, which made his well-known 'Manta'-show car of it. In 1969,
Bizzarrini had to stop with the production of his beautiful cars by financial reasons. He worked several years as a consultant.